As the date of the first public quilting session for the Black Watermen of the Chesapeake quilt moves closer (next Thursday, 11/12 at the Bates Legacy Center from 10:30am-1:00pm), I am starting to feel quite a bit of excitement about this project. The quilt is coming together beautifully with changes and new objects and images appearing every day. As with J2WH and all of Dr. Gaither's other quilts, I have already had an incident of seeing something on the quilt for the first time even though it has been there all along.
Also like J2WH, there is a frantic energy wrapped up in this piece with many different hands coming together to ready the quilt for its public outings and tour schedule. With the first exhibition opening of the tour occurring in a little over a month, Dr. Gaither is understandably busy and working at the speed of light it seems to get everything completed. I have even gotten wrapped up in this frantic work, finding myself actually quilting on Friday evening when I went to her workspace to get photos of the quilt for publicity. My camera battery decided to be uncooperative and the next thing I knew I was standing next to Dr. Gaither as she was showing me how to stitch into place some of the fabric along the border of the quilt. To understand how bizarre this experience is, I should probably mention that Dr. Gaither commented several times that she wanted a camera to document this occasion and that she couldn't believe I was actually quilting. In my defense, I did quilt on J2WH. I added stitches to the center section to help secure it during the quilting session at the Bates Legacy Center.
I hope you join us at one of the public quilting sessions in the next few weeks. We want to have as many people share their experiences of the Chesapeake Bay. You don't have to be a waterman to participate. The quilt is designed to encompass all experiences on the Chesapeake. Come share your experience with us and help create a work of art that will be shared throughout the nation for years to come.